Friday, December 04, 2009

Frugality Sucks

Before I launch into my rant, LOL, take a moment to check out Monica's tribute to her Aunt Bev (video made me cry, in a good way), and Tanya's take on Dean's letter to Santa.

I grew up without a lot of money. I don't like to say "poor," because we never went without anything important, and my mother was very successful at her work even if it didn't bring in very much money. But we wore hand-me-downs and got government butter and cheese and lived in veteran's housing. And we bought generic for pretty much everything. If it wasn't generic, it was the cheapest brand there was. When my mother remarried, my stepfather eschewed generic. And though I'd been told my whole life that it's the same stuff, OMG, I never knew frozen corn could taste so good. (Experience has taught me that they may PACKAGE the generics in the same factories as the name brands, it's not always the same stuff.)

So as an adult, I strive to balance saving money with quality. I clip coupons, I price-shop, I look for sales, and when the quality is less important or is good enough, I buy cheap.

One of those cheap items was Scott tissue. You know the kind—sold in single rolls, touts its 1,000-sheet length even though it's only one-ply. I kept using it once I grew up, because it's super cheap! But then I gave birth, and no more. Cushiness became my buy-word. :) When my mother was dying of cancer and still using Scott tissue, my brother and I were appalled. We went out and bought her the good stuff. She deserved it!

Recently, I got coupons for Scott Naturals paper towels, and even though it took a really long time, I finally decided to set aside my snobbery and give them a try. I mean, nothing stays the same forever, right? Maybe in the face of all the competition they made some improvements. Plus, I don't paper towels on my skin, so it was worth the test. I bought a big package with my $2.00-off coupon.

What a mistake.

These towels are like notebook paper. They are stiff and rough and don't absorb worth sh**. I've reverted to my basic Bounty or cloth-like Viva towels (whichever the coupon/sale combo makes cost the least) because of time-tested success. Plus, they have pick-a-size, which also saves money. Or at least allows me to only use what I need, which isn't necessarily the same thing. I'll save pennies in other ways, thanks.

On a related and disturbing topic...

I did a survey recently about store brands, which is the new "generic," I guess, which used to be white boxes, black lettering, no brand of any kind. The questions were taking the temperature of people's tolerance for, desire for, and reaction to store brands.

Maybe there's no connection, but if there is, I'm pretty pissed at all the other people who did the survey, because when I was grocery shopping yesterday, I went to get some Eggo waffles. My favorites are the minis, which they have always had in the giant box, and Legos. Well, now my grocery store has only TWO kinds of Eggo-brand waffles--homestyle and buttermilk. That's IT. No Lego, no minis, no stuffed or flavored. Instead, they have case after case brand waffles. And none of THEM were minis or fake-Lego-style or anything good.

Maybe the store brand homestyle waffles are just as good as Eggo. But in defiance, I bought the Eggo kind. So there!


Victoria said...

I agree, frugality does suck.
On the Eggo's though - I heard (not verified) there was some kind of shortage of Eggo's due to a storm or some disaster, so that's why you can't find much of them right now. Whether or not that's true, I can't say...

Cindy Procter-King said...

I'm all for store brands of some products. Like the other day I discovered some really great, soft toilet paper at a warehouse store. Colour me shocked. But I like MY brands, too. My grocery store used to stock a great brand of stuffed chicken kiev breasts. Now it's the store brand, and it's crap compared to the other. I've since stopped buying them altogether.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Thanks, Vic! You're right, someone said the same thing on my LJ. Phew! :)

Yuck, Cindy, I'm sorry. Trial and error with generics/store brands/etc. can be so disappointing, and when you find something good and they take it away...! Fie on them! :(

Susan Kelley said...

You so make me laugh, Natalie, and it kind of hurts after my surgery. I grew up a lot like you but on a farm. We ate beef at nearly every meal. I still have trouble paying real money for steak and roast.
I do a lot of generic buying also and Scott TP is good for septic systems.
My spoiled kids won't eat many things out of the freezer sections of the store. They like everything from scratch. So I didn't buy the last of the eggo's. I've heard there's a lawsuit about the political incorrectness of their name. Something about making light of all those poor unhatched chickens slaughtered to make egg products.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Sue, you crack me up! :)

Good point about Scott being good for septic systems. I'll have to remember to never have one. LOL

Shannon Stacey said...

We use Charmin UltraStrong, which is among the priciest because my husband says if he can't have toilet paper strong enough for a man, why the hell should he bother going to work?

Since I do NOT want him home with me during the day, I pay the extra.

One thing I absolutely cannot substitute with store brand: macaroni & cheese. Kraft, baby.

The thing we suffered during childhood hard times: bulk powdered milk. *shudder*

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

That's as good a reason as I've ever heard, Shannon! LOL

Agree 100% on the Kraft. :)

Ugh. Powdered milk. I don't even want to think about it...